Digital Marketing Live – The Cost of Free Design

the cost of free design

As a part of our Digital Marketing Tuesday series, Pete and David recently went live and discussed The Cost of Free Design. If you couldn’t tune in live on Tuesday don’t worry, here’s a rundown of everything you missed.

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“If it’s free design it means you’ll probably like it because it’s just what you thought you wanted, but it might not be what’s needed. It’s worth a little investment sometimes figuring out that message first and then designing effectively across any touchpoint.”


(DAVID) Good afternoon everybody, David from The Marketing People here, and you probably already know Pete our Digital Marketing Manager too. We’re not going to take too much of your time because it’s the run-up to Christmas and everyone’s pretty busy, so we’re just jumping on the live stream quickly to discuss the cost of free design.


(PETE) It’s a topic that can take us a day and a half full of presentations to discuss, but really, we wanted to give people food for thought, that’s why I’ve invited you [David] on today to give a deeper depth of the conversation. We talk to businesses all day every day and they’re all saying, “can you do us a free design?”. Now in my past life, I ran a leaflet distribution company, and we used to get this all the time. I wanted to invite you on today David to really talk about what is the true cost of free design?


(DAVID) Before we start, I must mention the shirt I’m wearing. Apparently, we got a lot of feedback and comments about the shirts I wear, and after you all choosing which one I should wear for the next live video, the pug one won! This is a pretty good choice, and it’s a pretty good design I hasten to add. Thank you to those that got in touch and requested and voted for the different shirts, this is the shirt that won.

But onto free design, it’s not just concerning print. Most people think free design comes with just print but over the years and more prominently now, it is actually across all touchpoints. The cost of free design? Monetary… zero. On outlay… zero. Let’s say you’re having leaflets produced, which can get distributed, handed out, put in invoice letters, or whatever you’re going to do. For the message that’s going to go on there, you’ll sit down taking your time to figure out what it is you need to say and focus on with this leaflet. You’ll think about all the important points and advertise what you’re really good at, and take all this information to the printers. The print designers will collate all your content and logo, and stick it all on the leaflet, as best they can.pete and david discussing the true cost of free design

Once printed, you’ll look at it and think “yes, that’s exactly what I asked for and they’ve put all the things that I wanted on there.” You may end up not getting the results you wanted from the leaflet and the time you spent giving that information to the printer and the ‘free time’ they took to put it on that paper actually could do more harm than good. The message might not be the right message, sometimes if you’re not careful you turn people off that were already working with you, because they’ll realise what you’re saying on this leaflet isn’t really what they previously thought of your business.

We’ve seen this happen before, and recently we have just worked with a UK national Association as they sent an advertisement brief to a large publication company and it came back, and it was nothing like the message or the structure they wanted to put across. They then asked us to design the advertisement and send it off to the publication using their specifications.

As Pete said, across anything, whether it’s a digital ad, a printed leaflet, an advert in a publication, or an advert online, even down to your website. The cost of free design is actually more cost-effective if you have it designed with the correct messaging.

I’m not going to sell our services, that’s not what these things are about, it’s to bring to you and highlight that thought process. People have had free design done, and then realised what you can have designed for you at a small cost have realised it’s worthwhile the small investment to get the right message, to get the right visual aspect across. Sometimes less is more as it is on digital ads, isn’t that right Pete? If you try and cram too much in what happens?


(PETE) Absolutely, you can say too much, and this is a journey. The leaflet that your potential or current customers have seen- that’s one touchpoint, that’s one of many that you can have out there and if you’re going down the free route all the time and being persuaded by free design it can be damaging for your brand messaging.

I’ve got case studies from years ago, a roofing company that we ran the leaflet drop for down in Solihull. Their leaflet was just put together on the back of a coaster by a big national company and it ended up costing them a couple of thousand pounds because they lost customers.


(DAVID) Also, you can give a mixed message, sometimes you’ll find that on some of these elements you’re trying to ask too many things in one go. Be specific when you’re doing digital ads, you need to have one specific thing that you’re targeting, not an overall because people want to know what it is that you’re offering, and they can get in touch. Then they get back to your website or give you a call depending on what the call to action is, then you can cross-sell and upsell. Targeting the right message for the right type of person, knowing who your market is, knowing what you want them to do, but of course, you’re going to make sure you get that message right and that takes some clever design. It’s got to be engaging and appealing, it’s got to attract them and engage them to do what you want and make them think it was their idea.

We’ve seen and spoken about examples where free design can give the wrong impression if the design company doesn’t understand your particular business.


(PETE) I was going to ask, David, you could go to a web design company, printing company, or signage company and they will happily design something for you, but from our perspective, how would we approach something like that?


the marketing people discuss the true cos of free design(DAVID) Well, we approach our work from a marketing perspective, and the design has to achieve something rather than simply selling a client 5,000 leaflets. Print might not be the best method for everyone, however print does work and we use print, we try and be as eco-friendly as possible but print does work it stands out at the moment. We design for the job the advertisement has got to achieve, not for just what the MD wants (no offence MDs). You know what you’re like MD’s you’ll want to get as much across as possible and you’re really proud of your business, and that’s great! But there’s a time and place for those messages, there can be too many elements in one part, and customers might not be sure what to look at. It can be the same for leaflets, too much going on. Stripping it back, looking at what the target audience needs to know to do that next step, then you can convert them and sell them at the next step.

So, horses for courses whatever it is Pete, if it’s free design it means you’ll probably like it because it’s just what you thought you wanted but it might not be what’s needed. It’s just worth a little investment sometimes figuring out that message first and then designing effectively across any touchpoint.


(PETE) I would like to add if you get something for free there’s quite possibly a copyright issue there. The person who designed it will own the copyright, they’ll never usually give you that copyright to re-reproduce artwork or whatever you want to do with those elements. They’ll often retain or watermark the design, so just be careful of this regarding free design.


(DAVID) On that point, we have done web projects in the past and have had to ask clients “where are your images from?” and they’ve often responded, “it was in the public space, it’s fine, it’s from Google”. You should be very careful doing this, just because images are o Google does not mean they’re free to use, you can get a lot of trouble using images that aren’t owned by you. There are better ways of sourcing your own images.

Overall, if you’re looking at designing something you don’t have to come to us, it’s fine. Just sit down and think about the free design, is that person going to help you with the marketing messages? Is that person going to be able to design effectively for what it is you’re trying to achieve, or are you just getting someone to bash it together? That may sound harsh, but graphic design is three, four years at university- the same as marketing it’s a university degree. Free design designers may not have the knowledge and experience to create effective messaging. This is an investment in a message to get you more business and growth, which is worth a bit of time and investment, isn’t it?

On that note, thank you very much for inviting me on today, Pete.


(PETE) If you’ve got any comments about this topic please leave them below. Remember it can cost you a pretty penny or two in the long term and short term as well because this is free design and you may not have full control over the messaging portrayed.

We approach design from a marketing perspective and understanding exactly what marketing is, and that’s a whole other conversation!


(DAVID) We know cheapest isn’t always best and ask yourself, “is it really good value by having something designed for free?”


(PETE) Well, I can’t sign off any better than that guys, so if we don’t speak to you before next week, Merry Christmas, have a great one, have a safe one, take care.

the marketing people advise the true cost of free designing

Top Five Reasons Why Office Humans are Great!

You might have seen our humans tell you about how great it is to have office dogs, well The Marketing Dogs are here today to tell you why we love our office humans just as much. This blog post is brought to you by Sammy, Chops and George.

A big bark ‘Hello’ to all our lovely followers that take great joy in keeping up with all of our office antics… it's a dog’s life! We loved reading the last blog post about all the wonderful reasons to have dogs like us in your office, and from our perspective, having office humans is just as great. We’d like to share with you the top five reasons why we love coming to work with Mum and Dad and being with the office humans.

1. Lots of Fuss and Attention

By far, our favourite thing about being around the office humans every day is the fuss and attention they give us, especially when we start each day. We try our best not to distract the office humans, but sometimes we can’t help getting over excited and let out a few barks! It is also lovely to get attention from The Marketing People’s clients as they come for meetings in the office. We make sure to give all our lovely clients attention (if they want it).

dogs joining client meetings
dogs waiting for treats

2. Treats Galore

In the office, Mum especially likes to spoil us with treats and we can’t refuse! Being around the office humans all day gives them ample opportunity to give us a little treat if we’ve all been on our best behaviour (which is all the time of course). Sometimes the humans are known for dropping crumbs on the floor, and to Mum's delight, we hoover the crumbs up immediately. If any lunch bags are left unattended... beware of Sammy's wondering nose!

3. Lunchtime Walks

Although it can be hard to get out of our warm and snuggly blankets to go out for a walk, we enjoy the fresh air at lunchtime. Chops can sometimes be the laziest one out of all of us, so we have to encourage her to get out in the colder months. Look at her all wrapped up in the blanket! It’s also great for the lovely human that gets to take us out as they get some headspace away from their computer screen.


stretches before we go for a walk
dogs playing in the office

4. Having Company All Day Long

It is great for us dogs to relax and play in the office and we especially love the company of the office humans all day. Being at home waiting for Mum and Dad to come home is way too boring for us, so we would much rather join them for the day. We're not just cute faces you know, we have been known to help out around the office too, but we're more likely to be found napping or playing!

5. Snack ‘n’ Play Time

When our office humans are all working hard and focusing (which is a lot more time than we thought!) Mum often gives us something to keep us quiet for an hour or so. A toy all three of us adore is our Snack Snake in which we have filled with peanut butter. It is quite difficult to get all of the peanut butter out straight away so it’s definitely something that keeps us all occupied. Sammy can often be found flinging her snake across the floor to knock out pieces of peanut butter!

snack and play time for the dogs at work


We hope you have enjoyed this blog post and we must give a big bark shout-out to our amazing Mum and Dad that let us join them at work every day and the lovely office humans too. Be sure to follow us on Twitter for more Marketing Dogs updates. @TheMrketingDogs

Cannock Chase Chamber Awards – We are Shortlisted

chase chamber of commerce awards 2021

Typically, entering for awards is not something we do, helping our clients establish and grow their business, obtain their goals, and for them to win awards is something worth celebrating for us.

This shortlisting is a testament to our team’s effort, dedication, and professionalism towards our customers and themselves, and the hard work they put in every day. And of course a special thanks to all the businesses we have and continue to work with.

Our focus is on helping our clients make the most out of their marketing investment, and in our way, help sustain and grow the regional economy.


As proud members of the Chamber, we are thrilled to announce The Marketing People have been shortlisted for the Cannock Chase Chambers of Commerce annual small business awards following the submissions by many well-deserving local companies.

We have heard some of our clients have submitted applications for this year’s awards, and it is great to see those we have helped in the past be shortlisted alongside us.

“Good luck” to everyone shortlisted for an award in whatever Greater Birmingham Chamber area or category you are in, and we are looking forward to being a part of the virtual ceremony in January.



proud member of the chase chamber of commerce

Veriserv’s New Head Office Signage

External business signage for client, Veriserv

This year, our client Veriserv relocated their head offices from Burntwood to Park Plaza, Cannock. The exciting move meant they required new signage and a change of company address on various touchpoints of the business. We supported Veriserv during the transition to ensure a smooth and quick change of address that was not disruptive to their staff or customers.


We began by scoping the location of the new premises to determine the type, size, location, and quantity of signs required. The layout of the business park is not straightforward making it hard for visitors to locate Veriserv’s reception.

We, therefore, designed specific directional signage to be placed throughout the site. We were asked to create and implement signage throughout the car park to clearly signpost where staff members, delivery drivers, and visitors should park their vehicles.

External Business Signage for Veriserv. Car Park Signage

External Business Signage for Veriserv


For the main building signage, it was important the lettering could be read from the main road away from the business park, to advertise Veriserv’s presence in a new location. The designed signage was relevant to the business and its branding, to suit the needs of the corporate head offices.

During the scoping, planning, and creation of the signage, visuals of the proposed designs in situ were submitted for approval before production and installation, allowing the customer to see precisely what would be installed.


Veriserv’s address is featured on multiple touchpoints of the business, including the website, related online processes, letterheads, business cards, and email signatures. We ensured each of these touchpoints were updated accordingly to avoid any inconsistencies when it came to their communications with clients.

At The Marketing People, our services ensure our clients and their requirements are supported from concept to completion, and we take care of all aspects when it comes to implementing new signage. As a fully integrated and encompassing marketing agency, we don’t just make the file for your artwork. We consult which signage is best for you and your customers, design the artwork in-house, create, and install the signage without you having to worry- while keeping you in the loop at every stage.

External Signage for Business Reception Area

Danielle Jupp joins The Marketing People

We are happy to welcome our newest member of the team, Danielle Jupp, to The Marketing People.

Danni has recently graduated from the University of Derby with a first-class degree after studying Marketing and Consumer Psychology for four years. She also has over a years’ worth of experience in the B2B and B2C sectors which will help her within her role as a Marketing Assistant, here at The Marketing People.

Working closely with Managing Director David Mitchell, Danni will gain a thorough understanding of overall marketing strategy and real-world application for businesses across all touchpoints. She will also assist in the delivery of our integrated Big agency skills, small agency bills through a cross-fertilisation of skills with other specialist members of the team.

Danni’s specific knowledge of consumer psychology provides her with a deeper understanding of customer experience and makes her such a vital asset to the team.

We can already see that Danni fits in with the culture of the business and as a part of the existing team perfectly.

Look out for calls and emails from Danni and make sure to join us by giving her a massive warm welcome.

Digital Marketing Live Q&A

We recently went live on our YouTube channel to answer an array of Digital Marketing questions sent into us by you! If you didn’t manage to catch us then here is everything you missed:



Before we go any further make sure you are subscribed to our YouTube Channel and have clicked the notification bell so you never miss a video again.


“Hi Pete, we’re a small retailer and have recently been running Facebook Ads very successfully however, as of yesterday we had our account suspended. What should our next steps be?”

Unfortunately, we’re not Facebook so we can’t explain why your specific account was suspended, but this is something that we are seeing more and more often. Facebook claim that accounts are being suspended as they are violating policy guidelines but you will have to contact Facebook support directly in order to get your account back.

Ideally, your business should be running ads on more than one platform in case problems such as this one occur. There are multiple ways to advertise on Google which we have discussed in a previous Digital Marketing Tuesday video but if you would like to discuss this further with us then book an appointment to speak with us.


“We are a florist that sells locally and online, can you help us increase sales? Currently, we’re doing leaflet campaigns and email marketing, are these methods effective?”

Email marketing is a great step in the right direction, especially since we’re coming up to Christmas and Black Friday has just passed. I think everyone is being bombarded with emails from e-commerce businesses at the same time though, so you have to be careful and make sure you stand out, but great job on setting that up.

What I would recommend for Florists and Gift Shops is to continue with the email marketing but alter the frequency. Also, top tip for you, make sure you get people’s birthdays from them so you can contact customers around their birthdays and send out reminders. You should also be sending emails to customers during any major holidays such as Valentine’s Day etc.


“We are a business that sells high-cost products. Can you help us find more ways to grow our business?”

All of this comes down to business metrics. What we witness a lot is clients approaching us saying “I want to run Facebook Ads” or “We want to run Google Ads or YouTube Ads” but before we do any of that we have to work out the Business Metrics for your specific business.

That might sound technical but it essentially comes down to:

  • How many customers do you need?
  • How many customers can you support at one time?
  • When you make a sale to that particular person how much revenue does that bring you?
  • And ultimately, what is your sales process?

You essentially need to identify where you are now and where you want to be in the future. If you would like us to go through this process for your business then book an appointment now.

If you’re selling high cost products or services, you don’t need many clients to get that initial upfront cost back. The way we grow businesses with that business model is through online events such as livestreams like the one at the top of this blog. They’re currently very popular and a great way to interact with your clients/customers. You could even just film videos and send them out to your customer base.

If you don’t have a customer base then you will have to put a bit more work into it to drive a bit of awareness and traffic to your business but by using platforms such as the Search Network, you can get in front of people who are searching for your product/service.


“We run ads at the moment Pete, were getting a high number of impressions but a low click-through rate. How do we amend this?”

This particular business is running Facebook Ads, Google Ads and Display Ads and this is what we call a click-through rate issue. So, they are being seen but no one is clicking on their ads. Whenever we see this issue, we tend to review the wording on the ads and if possible, we call out to the target audience directly.

For instance, a client we are currently working with has a customer base of both domestic and business users but their ads are calling out business owners only. This essentially narrows down their audience and targets specific people, so the more specific you can be, the better.

Another key thing to review is where you are sending people to once they have clicked on your ads. A common mistake we see businesses make is when they send people to the home page of their website – this is a massive no-no. You should be sending users to a page that’s specific to that problem and offers a solution as well, to reassure the person that has clicked on your ad that they are in the right place.


“Hi Pete, our business is currently focusing on doing email marketing. We are currently using Mailchimp but no one is opening any of our emails. What can we do to solve this?”

This has been a common question so if this is happening to you, you’re not the only one. We mentioned earlier that many businesses are sending out emails, due to the time of year, so there is a very high competition at the moment.

The way to fix this though is to look at your deliverables. Ideally, you shouldn’t be using your normal email provider, instead, you should be using software such as Mailchimp, Active Campaign, Infusionsoft etc (again if you need help with any of this then get in touch with us).

These types of software will allow you to look at your deliverables through the dashboard, so when you send out an email broadcast, you will be able to see:

  • How many people have received the broadcast
  • How many people have opened it
  • How many people have clicked any of the links in it

If you’re getting a very low open rate, which is typically anything less than 5%, we recommend that you review the subject line or the opening line of the email. At the end of the day, if people are not engaging with that subject line then they’re definitely not going to open the email to find out more information.

The main risk with having users ignoring your emails is having your email end up in the spam folder. If this is the case for your business then get in touch with us and we can help you take the next steps.


If you would like to find out how we can help you to attract, engage, convince and convert customers for your business then give us a call on 01543 387 047  or book an appointment.